Since 1933 when Henry Ford made the first automobile panels from soy plastic, soy-based products have grown to be an integral part of the auto industry.

Among the most recent successes is the soy-based Bio Tuff spray-on bed liner system marketed by Urethane Soy Systems Company (USSC). Bio Tuff is formulated with SoyOyl, USSC's soy-based polyol, to deliver material strength, flexibility, tear and abrasion resistance. Bio Tuff is 20% soy-based and can be sprayed as a protective coating onto truck beds, as well as farming equipment, trailers, fenders and even flooring.

“The real benefit of Bio Tuff over existing spray-on liners is that it's biobased and from a renewable resource, while offering superior quality,” says Larry Armbruster, USSC director of marketing. SoyOyl has only 25% of the environmental impact of petroleum based polyols as illustrated in a Life Cycle Analysis. Also for every pound of SoyOyl produced, roughly 2 lbs. of carbon dioxide is sequestered.

In American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) evaluations, Bio Tuff performed as well as its petroleum counterparts in typical physical properties such as hardness, tensile strength and elongation. Bio Tuff posted an elongation rate of 85%, demonstrating that the soy-based bed liner is capable of cradling various weights.

As testament to Bio Tuff's durability, one South Dakotan who field-tested the new product reports that after several years of hauling landscaping rocks, snowmobiles and agriculture equipment, his Bio Tuff bed liner has not cracked, peeled, stained or faded — even in the harsh winter environment.

Armbruster reports that the Bio Tuff liner is competitively priced compared to petroleum bed liners and is currently available through dealers in the Midwest. He says response to the product, which was launched in July 2004, continues to grow among dealers and consumers.

Another auto industry advancement comes from the BEAN-e-doo Molding Adhesive Remover from Franmar Chemical Inc. for use in auto collision repair. Dan Brown, executive assistant with Franmar, explains that repair shops must remove side-impact panels to repair dents and cracks.

This often includes sanding or grinding adhesives off panels before they can be reattached. That process can be labor intensive and frequently damages moldings — adding to the expense of the repair. But BEAN-e-doo allows auto shops to soak moldings in trays of the liquid soy adhesive remover and wipe the remaining adhesive off moldings.

“The advantage is that it saves time by allowing service technicians to work on other repairs while the moldings soak, it reduces labor and prevents damage to the molding,” says Brown. In addition, because the BEAN-e-doo Molding Adhesive Remover is nearly 50% soy-based, it's safer for workers and the environment, he says, pointing out that it also meets 2005 VOC (volatile organic compounds) regulations.

Brown reports that response to the new product has been exceptional, with one of the initial auto body owners who tested the product saying, “Don't change a thing.”

Soy-based ingredients can also be found in Aggre-Solv, an asphalt release agent from Aqueous Cleaning Technologies, Inc. Made with methyl soyate and ethyl lactate, Aggre-Solve is quickly replacing the industry-standard diesel fuel as the environmentally friendly product of choice for cleaning asphalt and road oils from vehicles, equipment and tools associated with the paving industry.

Also adding value to the auto and soybean industries is the growing expansion of soy biodiesel distribution across the country, which now represents the fastest growing renewable fuel in America. To enhance availability, CHS, a diversified energy, grain and food company, recently became the first U.S. company to offer preblended soy biodiesel at petroleum loading racks, which significantly streamlines the distribution process.

CHS will market the biodiesel products under the Cenex brand.